Spanish artist Julio Falagán is inviting audiences to take his work off RMIT Gallery’s walls and – for a coin donation – photocopy prints for their own art collections.
His Power to the People! exhibition is on at the gallery until 25 October.
Melbourne audiences will be able to have their very own Falagán original poster by photocopying your artwork. Doesn’t this go against the idea that artists need to protect their copyright?
Many of my works deal with this issue, and the difficulties the artist faces to professionalise their career, the speculation of the art market, and the dehumanisation of art.
Art is a swampy territory, there’s no such thing as a unique truth, it is a contradiction in itself. This is why at the same time I sell my work I also give copies of it away.
Culture can’t be something reserved for a privileged minority – we must, as artists, fight as much as possible to democratise art.
In the Art Copy Centre, you want to charge a nominal amount for each poster people photocopy. Why is that? Is this symbolic of a transfer of goods and services?
For me, art isn’t a job, it is a necessity and sharing what I do is a duty. Trying to impose limits to creativity and knowledge is absurd, nothing is created from nothing.
Actually, it’s something very simple. If you sell the work, even if it’s for a nominal amount, you are already acting inside of the art market, and the work acquires a new meaning. I then become a professional artist and any spectator, aside from his social status, becomes a collector.
It’s a way of erasing the frontier of the acquisition of artworks and a critique on the precarious professional situation of the artist.
As RMIT Gallery is a public art gallery, all money collected in the exhibition will be donated to the RMIT Scholarship Philanthropy Fund to support disadvantaged undergraduate students. How does this approach fit in with your idea of the performative aspects of the work?
I think it’s a perfect solution. In this case I am receiving an artist fee for the exhibition, which means the expenses this involves are covered. If I receive something because of the exhibition, the logical result is that I respond by giving something back to others.
The public gets an original and the institution involved received what the public finds appropriate for their scholarships. It’s a perfect circle.
It’s just like the project Power to the People! – I receive a grant from the state to produce it, money collected from people’s taxes, and that money is given back to people again in the form of art.
The internet has created a system where people share information freely (citizen journalists and new journalism in blogs and websites) and artists, filmmakers and creative people put out free content such as images, artwork, vodcasts and podcasts. How can a creative person earn a living? Is it possible to have a creative career that also provides a means of income?
In my case I am quite lucky to be able to survive thanks to creativity. Although really, my main sources of income are publicity and teaching, we could say that art offers me an equivalent to Christmas and summer “bonuses”.
Art is what I spend most of my time doing and my lowest source of income, but it’s a necessity. Not having to depend on art as my main way to subsist gives me more freedom when facing a project.
How hard is it to establish a career as an artist in Spain? You been successful in making your work visible, having just flown from Austria where your works are currently exhibited, but what sort of self-promotion and business skills are necessary, and where did you learn these?
Being an artist is half creativity, half marketing. Today everything is marketing.
When I finished university I moved to Madrid and, was so naïve as to try and introduce myself into the art market, by walking with my portfolio into a ton of galleries. I gave up after a month and started working for a publicity agency, as did most of my classmates.
In university they don’t prepare you for the real world, you live in a parallel world. Then, most people get used to that life and don’t come back to making art, except for a few of us unwary who continue trying.
Working in publicity taught me many selling strategies, it is like a war, with its tactics, its attacks, its concessions. It’s tough, but that’s how it works. I apply many of these methods in my work, but in a healthy way.
For example, the first big artistic project I did after leaving my publicity job was “Falagán Company Group”, a strategy to make myself known, a work halfway between publicity, graffiti and art.
Story: Evelyn Tsitas